A&O wins Germany’s largest private equity deal

Allen & Overy’s corporate partner Derek Baird has been quietly building up the magic circle firm’s private equity practice, scoring new client Exponent and advising on Germany’s biggest buyout this year in the same week.

Baird, who joined Allen & Overy (A&O) last January from Lovells, brought with him Charterhouse, which purchased German company Ista International from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer client CVC Capital Partners for €2.4bn (£1.6bn). This made it Germany’s largest private equity deal so far in 2007.

Baird told The Lawyer: “A&O is obviously looking to get more involved in the bigger ticket, international transactions like the Charterhouse deal, but as a private equity group it makes sense to build a stable of different clients, active in different geographies in different markets.”

Baird also won midmarket UK private equity house Exponent as a new client for A&O, through contacts he had cultivated while at Lovells. Richard Tudor, who came to Exponent from Apax, instructed Baird.

Exponent bought V.Holdings, the world’s largest marine services provider, from Close Brothers for $340m (£175m).

Exponent normally uses Travers Smith, but the firm was advising V.Holdings’ management team. Close Brothers were advised by Norton Rose.

Baird was brought in by A&O to plug the gap on the sponsor side left by leveraged finance star Tony Keal, who went to US firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, taking marquee client Kohlberg Kravis Roberts with him.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” said Baird. “And certainly on the financing side, we’re as busy as we’ve ever been.”